York Art Gallery joins the best museums in the world on Google’s Art Project

PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:38 28 January 2014

A piece of salt-glazed stoneware from Jane Hamlyn, who set up Millfield Pottery near Doncaster in 1975

A piece of salt-glazed stoneware from Jane Hamlyn, who set up Millfield Pottery near Doncaster in 1975


A new exhibition created by York Art Gallery will be seen by a global audience, thanks to a new partnership with media giant Google.

High-definition images of 52 works along with video and detailed information have been uploaded to create this unique exhibition for the Google Art Project.

Entitled WA Ismay: Collector, Connoisseur and Potoholic, the exhibition gives a snapshot of the pieces held by this important collector, who bequeathed his 3,500-strong collection of British studio ceramics to York Museums Trust when he died in 2001.

This is the first of a number of proposed exhibitions by York Museums Trust, who also look after the Yorkshire Museum and York Castle Museum, using the Google Art Project platform. To view the exhibition go to: google.com/culturalinstitute.

Mike Linstead, the trust’s e-communications co-ordinator, said: ‘Partnering with the Google Art Project is an incredibly exciting step forward for York Museums Trust. We feel it is important to make the many wonderful and historic works in our collections as accessible as possible. Through the Art Project we are able to showcase many works in a dedicated online space.’

Helen Walsh, assistant curator of decorative arts, continued: ‘York Art Gallery has one of the best collections of British studio ceramics in the country, partly because of the strength of the WA Ismay Collection.

‘The Google Art Project has given us a fantastic platform to promote these works and Ismay to a new audience around the world.’

York Art Gallery’s collection now sits alongside some of the biggest arts institutions in the world, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and the British Museum and Tate Britain in London.

The 52 works shown in the exhibition offer an important glimpse into the world of Bill Ismay, a Wakefield librarian who was the UK’s most prolific collector of this particular kind of post-war ceramic work, filling every spare space of his small terraced home.

The exhibition gives visitors the chance to learn about this remarkable man and see some of his star pieces in high definition. It also includes scans of documents and images from his extensive archives.

Perhaps one of the most important tools it offers is the ability to use a custom-built zoom, which allows visitors to discover minute aspects of works they may never have seen up close before.

The Google Art Project allows visitors to browse works by the artist’s name, the artwork, the type of art, the museum, country, collections and the time period. A ‘My Gallery’ feature also allows users to save specific views of any of the artworks and build their own personalised gallery.

The project is part of the Google Cultural Institute, which is dedicated to creating technology that helps the cultural community to bring their art, archives, heritage sites and other material online. The aim is to increase the range and volume of material from the cultural world for people to explore online and, in doing so, democratise access to it and preserve it for future generations.

Click here to view the exhibition

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